Monday, December 11, 2006

MARK McGUIRE - HALL OF FAME?

The big question confronting Hall voters, this months, is McGuire? Might I offer some insight, as a Hall Member, once a home run hitter, and recently, an author of a best selling book addressing it.

Everyone knows that someone in my position will tend to walk the fence on the issue. I won’t argue that, I’m human, and I see the same things you do, but I was in that world for 20 years myself, and know a little about the pressure. I’d ask the voters to look past the basic question, did he or didn’t he, and consider the era, and what fueled it.

Look back at the era, that in my book, Clearing the Bases, I call Finding the Abyss. The theme I intended to convey was that, the Commissioner, baseball owners, executives, and administrators, the print and broadcast media, as well as the fans, all got caught up in the power explosion, which was led by McGuire. We loved him, and Sammy, and the fact that they were saving our game. No one wanted it to stop, it lasted almost 10 years. It was a feeding frenzy, and everyone fed off of it, especially television and baseball’s licensees. How about baseball gives all the money back that it made off of Mark McGuire? No, instead, baseball, and those that benefit from it, will keep that money, but punish McGuire, by associating him with steroid use, and questioning his Hall of Fame entrance.

The point is, with no testing policy in place before 2005, and the expectations we put on those players, one must acknowledge that the approval they received daily, from media exposure, money, and fame, fueled their need for an “edge”. Thank God steroids weren’t available to us in the 70’s and 80’s. I, and many who will remain unnamed, would have been 40 lbs. heavier trying to keep up with the Jones, especially since the combination of leading the league in home runs and becoming a free agent meant millions. Think what it means today, choosing between Citation and Gulfstream.

As a player of his caliber, and fan expectation, in an era of electronic exposure beyond belief, where anything and everything is available, and a great many of your peers are getting bigger and more powerful, the temptation to join in was immense. What about integrity, honesty, clean living; maybe that’s what constitutes a Hall of Famer? Based on history, I don’t think so.

Ok, it sounds like I’m making excuses, and asking voters to condone the use of steroids just because “everybody was doing it”, well, to some degree I am, not so much on the player’s side, but the public. The public wanted to see his giant biceps and long bombs, and could care less what Mark McGuire was putting in his milk. He was baseball’s superman. Now you want to vilify him because he doesn’t want to own up, or admit, or even refute an involvement with steroids. Whoa! Now I’m not saying that if someone slips into the bathroom stall and sticks a needle in his butt, he should be given the benefit of the doubt. That borders on stupidity, and only Jose Canseco’s word is in evidence against Mark. Mark’s diet supplements were legal when he played.
What about his refusal to come clean before Congress? Yes, I agree, that could have been handled better, but we all know he was advised by his council to steer clear of any personal issues that might open an “abyss” of media scrutiny.

Until, and if ever, Mark chooses to admit to steroid use, you must give him the benefit of doubt. I guarantee you every Hall voting baseball writer got a months worth of articles from Mark’s career, and during the period from 1995 to 2003, they loved his every swing. In fact, I think most fans would agree, few players ever had as big an impact on baseball, including the two 1st ballot entries in 2007.

One last thing, this is only the beginning. Don’t forget over the next 10 years, dozens and dozens of players from that era will arrive on the ballot. So voters, you better treat that era for what it was, and what fueled it, and understand that what is more important than yes, or no, on McGuire, is how you interpret what constitutes Hall of Fame credentials in today’s version of baseball.

23 Comments:

Blogger Kanon said...

Hello Mike,

Couldn't agree more, how many Hall of Famers were saints in their era, how many took advantage of the "edges" their circumstances gave them? There are a number of HOF pitchers who were notorious spitballers or otherwise greased their balls to get a competitive edge, yet no one is yelling to remove these cheaters from the Hall of Fame.

5:39 PM  
Blogger Askinstoo said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

4:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Mike,

I am 100% on board with your comments. It took a lot of guts to make the comment about MLB taking back the money it made off of McGwire. It seems to me any "club" whether it is the hall of fame or the US Congress is full of hypocracy and it votes accordingly. Keep working to get guys like Pete Rose, Jim Kaat, Lee Smith and Mark McGwire the recognition they deserve.

1:32 PM  
Blogger dailun said...

Mike,

I couldn't agree more as well. Mark McGwire, Pete Rose deserve to be in the Hall. Steroids if Mark even took them, don't help you see the ball. I think the baseball writers should have little to no influence on voting for the Hall of Fame. Many of those writers probably never played organized sports in thier lives or even a pick up game of strikeouts in a schoolyard. Who are they to decide such an important decision.

5:17 PM  
Blogger JPLea said...

Mike-I could not agree more with your post on McGuire and other Hall of Famers. As far as the steroids controversy goes, I remember when all the controversy started former Dodgers catcher Steve Yeager was interviewed about it and made some very powerful observations. The two I remember most are that 1) Steroids still won't help you hit the ball, and 2) Bulking up in baseball is not always a good thing-baseball is a sport of being limber and added bulk w/o flexibility makes you VERY susceptible to injury. P.S. Mark McGuire was a BIG guy by nature-how large was his brother Dan the former Aztec QB? I don't think he took that many steroids for bulk I think the most they did for him was to keep him 100% healthy and acheive his full potential.

10:37 PM  
Blogger Donnie Marler said...

Mr. Schmidt,
Thank you for starting this blog and allowing the average fan the opportunity to communicate with one of the all time greats of the game.
Living just south of St. Louis, I remember well the excitement of that magical season as McGwire and Sosa battled for the record.
I hate to see his accomplishments tainted in any way. He was a tremendous player and a great ambassador for baseball.
I admit to being prejudiced in his favor, but I believe Mark McGwire belongs in the Hall of Fame.

7:07 AM  
Blogger Dudley Bokoski said...

I think the best arguement against McGwire is made in a quote on your website. "If you could equate the amount of time and effort put in mentally and physically to succeeding on the baseball and measured it by the dirt on your uniform, mine would be black."

As a fan I could feel good about Mike Schmidt being in the Hall of Fame. You were dominant at your position, a tremendous run producer, in a league with only Brooks Robinson and a few others as a fielder, and a key factor in what stands as the Phillies glory days. There isn't any doubt where those accomplishments came from. They are reflected in your quote.

I don't know where Mark McGwire's acheivements came from and his reluctance to discuss his use of performance enhancing drugs keeps me from knowing. Because of that, I fall back on the Hall of Fame's Rule #5, which references integrity, sportsmanship, and character. I think you make good points, but I still couldn't support McGwire for the Hall of Fame.

8:11 AM  
Blogger TShreck said...

Its always been said that baseball mirrors the times we live, and I totally agree with you in that has to be taken into consideration. But as the father of two very talented 13 year old ball players, how do I explain it to them. How do explain to them that at the time baseball was dying, and it was desperate for a hero and it got two in the form of Mark and Sama. And although everyone had an idea that there might be something chemical behind their success, they had no problem looking the other way.

My responsibility as father is to love, teach, coach, motivate and mentor my sons into becoming the best they can be... if they ask me if Mark deserves to be in the HOF... what should say?

Too be honest, it was hard enough to answer the: " dad, do you think Bonds is really on Roids?" They know me well enough to read through the bs when I answered: " a man is innocent till proven guilty".

Thank you,

Tom

9:51 AM  
Blogger PremierMan said...

Mike,

It was a pleasure to read your interview and hear your opinion on who belongs and doesn't belong in the hall. Being a true baseball aficionado it has become very disheartening to see the politics being played out that ultimately hurts the integrity of the game. Forget that you are a Yankees fan, a Phillies fan or a Cubs fan. Baseball is about the fans and the desire to see their heroes out on the field playing the game at the level we all wish we could achieve. Why shouldn't the fans be able to see their heroes immortalized in the Hall? Who is the commmisioner of baseball or the writers association the determining factor on allowing our heroes to be inducted?
As you said in your interview, a player is not just known for their playing ability but also as ambassadors outside the game, someone like Jim Kaat. (See link below to Mike's interview that is a must read)
[http://msn.foxsports.com/mlb/story/6291828]
Look at the story of Pete Rose aka/Charlie Hustle. A man that exemplifies baseball at its core. He made his mistakes off the field, as a lot of us have, but no one can deny that baseball was his god given gift. A man that left it all on the field and gave 110% everyday. How can a mistake (although a BIG one) keep him from the hall? Put an asterisk next to his name or something, but don't deny baseball's all-time hits leader his place in history. He earned that on the field and no one can question or dispute those accomplishments.

Mike keep lobbying for the more deservent and less looked upon baseball players that deserve to be next to their heroes in baseball history. Your were an example while playing baseball and still are a true ambassador for the game.

9:54 AM  
Blogger PremierMan said...

Mike,

It was a pleasure to read your interview and hear your opinion on who belongs and doesn't belong in the hall. Being a true baseball aficionado it has become very disheartening to see the politics being played out that ultimately hurts the integrity of the game. Forget that you are a Yankees fan, a Phillies fan or a Cubs fan; baseball is about the fans and the desire to see their heroes out on the field playing the game at the level we all wish we could achieve. Why shouldn't the fans be able to see their heroes immortalized in the Hall? Who is the commmisioner of baseball or the writers association to be the determining factor on allowing "OUR" heroes to be inducted?
As you said in your interview, a player is not just known for their playing ability but also as ambassadors outside the game, someone like Jim Kaat. (See link below to Mike's interview that is a must read)
[http://msn.foxsports.com/mlb/story/6291828]
Look at the story of Pete Rose aka/Charlie Hustle. A man that exemplifies baseball at its core. He made his mistakes off the field, as a lot of us have, but no one can deny that baseball was his god given gift. A man that left it all on the field and gave 110% everyday. How can a mistake (although a BIG one) keep him from the hall? Put an asterisk next to his name or something, but don't deny baseball's all-time hits leader his place in history. He earned that on the field and no one can question or dispute those accomplishments.

Mike keep lobbying for the changes needed by baseball to become the fan's sport once more and continue to be a true ambassador for the game. We all need more leaders and role models like you.

9:57 AM  
Blogger Rob said...

Merry Christmas, Mike.
I agree with your comments. If the HOF should be less stringent and judgemental of this era's sluggers like Mark McGuire, why should it turn it's back on Pete Rose?

I don't condone Rose's betting, nor do I condone his repeated denials. I also don't condone the behavior of guys like Ty Cobb who was the most ornery, racist and disliked guy around. But Cobb's on-the-field accomplishments made him a shoe-in for the Hall. God (and maybe some players) knows what other HOF members have skeletons in their closets that might have changed their eligibility for the Hall had they been publicized.

2:06 PM  
Blogger angelus said...

Hi Mike,
I couldn't agree with you more about what you said and also what several fans said about Mark McGwire belonging in the hall. I think the baseball writers have to much power over who gets in and who doesn't. They use their personal feelings cloud their judgement. A local newspaper here in Cleveland recently had a poll of it's sportswriters & all but 1 said they'd vote no for McGwire to be elected. They said in their opinion he did steroids & doesn't belong. I'd like to know whatever happend to innocent until proven guilty? Jeremy Giambi also reportedly did steroids but it didn't help his career. He was a borderline major leaguer. So who's to say if McGwire did steroids it helped him hit all those homeruns? He did hit 49 as a rookie. Why do sportswriters say they'd vote for him if he admitted it? Rose admitted gambling on baseball & he's no closer to getting in now than he was 10 years ago. If they keep McGwire out than what about Tony LaRussa? He put him in the lineup. These same writers who say they'll vote no for McGwire also voted for Giambi to win the MVP. The power should not belong in the hands of the sports writers!

2:58 PM  
Blogger Old Philly Fan said...

First, great article & awesome website! As a dedicated Phillies fan I always felt that you were a straight shooter and someone who tried to be as honest as possible throughout your career. Your comments on the hall of fame are right on target. The fans, the owners, the media and baseball in general all were on the home run bandwagon! Now, after the ride we want to attack the very people that carried baseball for ten years.

First, steroids are wrong and no one should condone the use of illegal drugs.

Second, as a fan we need to move on and establish rules to take us into the next era of baseball (we can always argue night time baseball vs daytime, or the DH, or specialization in pitching) Every era is different! But - WE NEED NEW RULES!

And third, membership into the hall should always be a combination of three factors: the fan, the baseball writers, & the players. With the final decision in the hands of the players that played the game we love!

Great web site and thanks for sharing your thoughts!

Jim
Lancaster, PA


Second,

6:51 AM  
Blogger Jeff said...

Mr Schmidt -
I saw the article in today's Chattanooga Free Press, then thought I would check out the site. I was (and still am) a huge Mike Schmidt fan. Had the Philadelphia batting helmet as a kid and hit a lot of backyard homeruns pretending to be you.
I do agree with your stand with McGwire. Just because it wasn't a good decision from a health or personal standpoint doesn't mean he did anything wrong according to baseball. It's kind of like lowering the speed limit then going back and penalizing people for speeding last year according to this year's limit. Mark McGwire did exactly what baseball needed exactly when baseball needed it, and for baseball not to recognize what he did for the game is ridiculous.
After McGwire makes it in, can we start a crusade for Shoeless Joe?
Thanks for the site and Merry Christmas!

5:45 PM  
Blogger Tad said...

Mr. Schmidt,
I read an article that you wrote that was posted on FOX sports about the upcoming Hall of Fame votes. Between that article, and this one, there is no doubt that that you are supportive of those who were Greats of the Game. I hope the voters will take your advice and look at the big picture because, if there are more players who used steroids, the Hall of Fame may have few new inductees. Then again, perhaps that would give the Veteran's Committee more inductees. Your comments about Buck O'Neal could not be more true.

8:48 PM  
Blogger LucyVP55 said...

Hi Mike - Sorry, but I must respectfully disagree with you on the issue of Mark McGuire and the HOF. You say baseball should give back all the money it made off of McGuire and Sosa. What about the money McGuire and Sosa made off of us fans? Worse than that, they made suckers out of us all. McGuire had a chance to be a man and tell the truth when he "testified" before Congress. But instead he was a sniveling, teary-eyed coward who would only say he wasn't there to talk about the past. His smaller biceps, smaller neck, and clearer skin spoke volumes however. I believe the public would have been more forgiving if he had just told the truth. I'm from Boston and I think of guys like Yaz, who wasn't a big guy, and Teddy ballgame, who was as thin as a...well, he was as thin as a splinter! Then there's Jim Rice, who should be in the HOF, as he was the dominant hitter of his day, and his numbers stand up against or are better than many other players who are in the HOF. None of these guys did steroids. You talk about McGuire's big biceps, well, big biceps don't make a man a real man. A brave heart, honesty, and courage do, and I saw none of those qualities from McGuire when it was all on the line in Washington, DC. If he gets elected to the HOF, it will be a sham, a joke, just like his so-called "records" are. Mark McGuire should be ashamed of himself.
"There's a sucker born every minute."-P.T. Barnum

9:16 PM  
Blogger marathonmax said...

Hi Mike,
You make some good points. I also read the si.com article that you wrote. I can't figure out why Goose Gossage and Steve Garvey aren't in the Hall. I was in Cooperstown when Eckersley and Molitar went in and taking nothing away from them, Gossage and Garvey are both most deserving.

12:44 AM  
Blogger Raider Nate 75 said...

"The point is, with no testing policy in place before 2005, and the expectations we put on those players, one must acknowledge that the approval they received daily, from media exposure, money, and fame, fueled their need for an “edge”."
I couldn't disagree more with this statement. My point being that the Laws of the United States of America outweigh any "testing policy" or lack thereof. I understand about expectations, and everything else, because it has always been there in baseball. The difference between our time today and when Ruth was king, is the amount of money being unloaded to the players. They play the majority of the game here in the U.S. What is not being considered by the Players Union, owners, etc; in the contracts being signed, are the laws of the land.
I say this because I personally think that this "era" of baseball when McGwire, Sosa, and now Bonds; were granted "blessings" to do so by the Commissioner after the strike. I remember him saying they needed more home runs, bigger players, etc; to attract the fans again. Well since 1994, home runs have increased dramatically, than any other time in baseball history. Why? Juiced balls, juiced bats, and more importantly; juiced players.
Players will argue the point, "Steroids don't give you the ability to hit the ball, etc." No they don't, but you already had that ability, that is why you play in the Majors! Steroids give you an advantage with your ability. That advantage is strength; which is what is needed to jack homers more often.
That is why I can't "get on board" with McGwire, Sosa, Canseco, Bonds, Palmeiro, Giambi, Sheffield, and others. Here are guys who know exactly what their chefs cook them, and everything in it; but blindly trust what a trainer gives them? Yeah right! They knew exactly what they were taking; and they had the permission of the Commissioner to do it.

5:59 AM  
Blogger tom said...

Mr. Schmidt,
I'm a life long phillies fan. I was in cooperstown the day of your induction, I've eaten at your hoagie house in doylestown PA, and I cried when ritchie Ashburn died. I'm sorry but I have to disagree with you. Mark knew he was doing something wrong when he took enhancement chemicals. He still knows it was wrong which is why he kept quiet at the senate hearings. Bottem line, would you want your kids taking steroids? He made his choice, honesty/integrity vs money and he took the money. If he is allowed in, it opens the floodgates for everyone and we will see an increase in steroid abuse because there are no penalties.
I was abig supporter of Pete Rose getting into the Hall but he lost me when he admitted betting on baseball. he knew he was doing something wrong, which is why he denied it for so long. He took the money and threw integrity out the window. How can you justify him being admitted. Again, it sends a mixed signal, get away with whatever you can, there's no accountability anymore.

4:54 AM  
Blogger socalbbfan said...

First off, McGwire is spelled just like that, with a "K" and not a "U" after "G." Geez...bookmark baseball-reference.com...

Secondly, I disagree, anyone who juiced should not be in the HoF. Steroids is illegal without an Rx. He was breaking federal law. Anyone like him should have been investigated and charged with a crime, then incarcerated.

Thirdly, the juice helped him and the others post the numbers they did. They are thus artificial numbers and should be wiped off the books. So, Philly's Ryan Howard is the true single season HR leader. Aaron will always have more HRs than Bonds.

9:23 PM  
Blogger mr_sucondis said...

I agree with your every word Mike, very well said. Let me take this one step further If I may...

The issue with steroids has been pushed far beyond the realm of public safety, role modeling, and player credibility. I feel it safe to say that Mark McGwire was one of the greatest home-run hitters of all time with 583 homers -- McGwire was a 12-time All-Star, the AL's Rookie of the Year in 1987 and a Gold Glove-winning first baseman. Hall of Fame ballot instructions strictly limit a voter's scope to a players' "record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character, and contributions to the team(s) on which he played. McGwire assuredly fits the bill of a Hall of Famer by these standards, and it would be a shame if his entry is delayed. This is a man who in the final years of his carreer gave away every bit of his endorsement income (which far exceeded his MLB salary)to charity for quite a few years. I believe McGuire had every right to refuse being hauled into a scandal over an issue that was not even a MLB violation during his 16 years of service. Let us not forget that it was players like McGwire and Mike Schmidt that saved baseball from the Strike that almost devestated MLB forever.

9:42 PM  
Blogger inmac3 said...

Mark does belong in the Hall. Are we all forgetting that the congressional hearings were after his career was over? Doesn't one become "Hall Worthy" by their career numbers as well as by their integrity? Pete Rose does not belong simply because he bet on the game itself while he managed in those games. He steadfastly denied this for many years yet he AGREED to a lifetime ban! If he didn't do it, why accept the ban? Now that he has admitted it, he's crying to get back in. Sure, he made a mistake, but so did the "Black Sox" of 1919. Are they allowed back in baseball? McGwire has not been found guilty of 'cheating' so let his numbers speak for themselves. What if there had never been any Congressional hearing? You think he still would have gotten only 23.5%?? He retired with integrity by telling the Cardinal organization they should pursue younger players to help them get to the World Series. Mark must be a prophet as I do believe the Cardinals won the series in 2006? He'll get in as soon as those writers acknowledge that McGwire may be just getting blamed for something he may not have been involved with no matter what Canseco says. Beefed up or not, McGwire still had to swing that bat and make SOLID contact to hit home runs. Steroids cannot ever do that!

8:22 PM  
Blogger Jeff said...

Mike liked you alot growing up but I have to disagree. I belive Mark McGuire was taging steroids his entire career. No way does he hit 500 without them. Point blank if congress ask you if you took steroids and you didn't you say no, he couldn't. Same thing with Barry Bonds no way does he hit 762 without performance enhancing drugs, maybe 650. Though I dont think he staryed taking steroids until around 98. Same thing with Pudge Rodriguez, I rememer people talking about him as being the greatest catcher of all time possibly, not anymore. You Play you Pay. The only one that has even a little clue is Jose Canseco, though he did it for revenge and money. The truth will set you free and none of these players have demonstrated this. That is called a caracter flaw, do you really want these cheater in the hall of fame with you. What about the people who did not take steroids and "played naked" some of them did not recieve the fame or celebrity staus or stats that these cheaters did. That is the crime. Thanks Mike, Jeff

11:20 AM  

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